Subject: Coronavirus Update 3/27/20

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Coronavirus update
Friday, March 27, 2020

Dear patients and friends,

A few updates on the COVID-19 situation in Oregon, our practice accommodations, and my thoughts about the coming months.

In the office we’ve been have been open 8am-3pm Monday through Thursday and 8am-noon on Friday. As always, I am available after hours for urgent matters by cell phone 503-481-5871.

We are now using DOXY.ME as a platform for virtual visits. The sign on is very simple and patients who have used it are impressed with it’s ease and how closely it resembles an in person visit. To avoid a predictable backlog of visits when this is over, and to keep up with your medical needs, please help us now by agreeing to these virtual visits when indicated. See brief instructions below, but we will assist you when we set up the visit as well. Both Dr. Biemer and Julia Jones have available times for these visits.

Providence continues to run drive through testing sites on the east and west side of town. Testing at these sites has been mostly limited to high risk patients and health care providers.
Commercial labs such as Quest are offering testing but there is a slow turnaround (3-5 days). Providence labs is conducting testing and accepting samples provided by physicians in the community. They are limited to about 600 tests per day and there is a shortage of the actual testing swabs and viral media used. We have conducted only two tests so far through our office, both pending.

Some cautious optimism for the state of Oregon- I think we got on top of social distancing well ahead of California and the Seattle area, and have far fewer cases at this time. St Vincent Hospital currently has 17 hospitalized COVID-19 POSITIVE patients, with quite a few more persons “under investigation”. The hospital has shut down all but emergency surgeries, and has a good number of hospital beds and ICU beds/ventilators available. We expect to see this number grow over the coming week and all hands are on deck. Personal protective equipment continues to be in short supply. Things are much worse in other areas of the country and the south looks to be the new epicenter (after New York) for cases. I suspect we will continue to have major disruptions to the way we do business well into the Fall of this year.

Once you have a visit scheduled, our office staff will send you the web link to use for login. Use this link to log on a few minutes before your visit is scheduled to begin. Most devices with a camera and microphone will do and we suggest being in an area with good service or WiFi.
The site will ask you for your name, and may request that you allow the use of your camera and speakers. Please enter your name and give permission. At the time of your visit a provider will join you on the call. 

What to do if you show symptoms:
Symptoms of COVID-19 most commonly include sore throat, fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and sometimes other flu symptoms.

• Self-isolate at home until 72 hours after fever and cough (if present) resolve per the advice of Oregon Health Authority
• Call us. Let us know about your symptoms so that we can help you manage them as well as assist with decisions about seeking further care
• Heed advice to mostly stay at home and use SOCIAL DISTANCING over the next few weeks until “all clear” signal.  

• Come in to the office without first speaking with a staff member
• Seek testing at urgent care or emergency department unless your symptoms warrant further medical assistance

Regardless of the availability of testing, the best thing we can do is maintain good hygiene and follow the guidelines set forth by the Oregon Health Authority.

Stay well,
Jim Biemer, Julia Jones, and the team
James Biemer, 9135 SW Barnes Rd, Suite 863, Portland, OR 97225, United States
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